Being a woman in today’s world can be hard.
The “ideal woman” is one with the hourglass figure, who dresses feminine (but appropriately), doesn’t wear too much makeup, and is smart (but not smarter than the men, of course).
These unrealistic expectations have caused women, especially young girls, to feel like they aren’t good enough. If they have a little bit of chub on their stomach, they think they’re fat. If they have acne, they think they’re ugly. Having these thoughts as a young girl is dangerous for their self-esteem and perception.
The presumption that women wear makeup or dress a certain way to impress men has not only worsened this concept, but has damaged girls’ self perception. Often, you may hear a man say “you look better without makeup!” or “why do you wear so much makeup? You look fine without it!” Although these statements may have good intentions, they are based on the premise that women do everything to impress men. News flash: we do it for ourselves. We wear makeup because it makes us feel beautiful. What’s so hard to understand?
This presumption also carries over to what a woman chooses to wear. For example, if a woman decides to wear a dress that shows more skin, they are labeled as someone who’s “asking for it.” News flash: we wear dresses that make US feel beautiful. Rape culture has essentially made women feel that if they wear a dress showing more skin, they can’t be mad if they get sexually assaulted. Many women are afraid of coming forward because of the fear of being victim-blamed, and asked the haunting question, “but what were you wearing?” The audacity.
Young girls are also taught to not walk alone at night, and to always carry a taser and pepper spray for protection. Growing up in a culture of sexism and violence against women, we live in constant fear of getting followed, catcalled or sexually assaulted. Instead of dictating what woman can and cannot wear, how about we teach men to not rape women? It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, men shouldn’t rape women. Simple enough.
In addition, women who tend to be more curvy than others, are also inclined to feel that they can’t wear the clothes they want because “it’s not meant for them.” Body shaming continues to be a rampant issue in our society, and causes women to have negative feelings about themselves and their bodies. Young girls are often easily influenced, meaning that with even one negative comment about their body, they can go to the extreme of trying to “fix” themselves whether it’s going on a diet in high school or even starving themselves. When I was in 9th grade, I was extremely insecure of my body. I remember telling my mom I wanted to go on a diet because I hated my body. My mom knew I wouldn’t stick to it (I love food too much), but still told me that I am beautiful, regardless of my size. All bodies are beautiful.
Another example of how the “ideal woman” has negatively affected women is in the workforce. Simply put, some men feel threatened by strong, independent women. This ties in to the concept of toxic masculinity. Women in leadership positions often make men feel uncomfortable. They don’t enjoy having to listen to women, because their internalized (or externalized) misogyny tells them the roles should be switched. This often amplifies extreme misogyny and sexism against women in the workplace.
This is also seen with women in power. The United States is yet to have a female president. Why? Many are afraid that women are too emotional and will make irrational decisions as president. All I’m going to say is, look at our current president. He’s a man.
When the world can be so against us, it’s important for us as women to practice self love. Be confident in the person you are. Self love is not just loving your body, but it’s accepting who you are, treating yourself with kindness and respect, and loving the person you are on the inside too.
Regardless of the makeup you wear, the clothes you wear, your body type or your college major, you are amazing. Be confident. Flaunt it. Life is too short to let other people tell you how to live and express yourself.
Even when the world tells us otherwise, it’s so important that we know we are worthy of beautiful things. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Loving yourself is the greatest revolution, embrace it to the fullest.